Jazz Against Apartheid tour to South Africa 2023
That Jazz fought the struggle against apartheid and won is a matter very close to the hearts
of many South Africans. As we approach our 30 years of democracy celebrations in 2024, apartheid may be over, but the struggle for equality continues.
This was the message of JAA founder Mr Jürgen Leinhos in his acceptance speech for the
2021, Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in Silver. He said, “Since isolating political
voices and groups not only from the political process, but from education, health care, etc.
have not stopped, JAA has a legitimate reason to exist.”
Mr Leinhos, now 85-years old, founded JAA in Germany in 1986. Eastern Cape born bass
player, composer and ANC member in exile Johnny Mbizo Dyani was chosen to lead JAA.
Dyani went into exile at the age of 17 with the famous Blue Notes and by 1986 his contribution to world jazz was strong. As a prolific collaborator, his career illustrated the unity in diversity that is achieved through music; his compositions and albums brought awareness to struggle icons such as Steve Biko, Lillian Ngoyi, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, and he showed the source of jazz as African and the pathway to a freedom of creative
Dyani passed away shortly after the opening event in Berlin, however JAA continued and
from its base in Frankfurt Germany, the initiative collaborated with musicians in UK, Switzerland, EU, US and Canada and performed over 100 concerts on three continents.
JAA provides a complete archive of 25 years of exile history. A collaboration of fellow exile
and their international contemporaries including Gilbert Matthews, Pinise Saul, Ernest
Mothle, Lucky Ranku, Louis Moholo, Makaya Ntshoko, trumpeter Harry Beckett and
saxophonist John Tchicai. Contemporary musicians Swiss saxophonist Daniel Guggenheim,
as well as vibraphone player Christopher Dell, drummer Christian Lillinger from Germany,
Canadian trombonist Allen Jacobson, percussionist Thomas Dyani, and UK trumpeter Claude Deppa have continued Dyani’s music.
In 2022 JAA returned to the Eastern Cape for the first time as a “Homecoming,” strongly supported by two former South African exiles in Germany: rural development practitioner, Professor Peggy Luswazi from Mthatha and heritage practitioner and poet Vusi Macingwane Mchunu from KZN.
Jazz in South Africa has a significant potential and capacity for long-term sustainable growth, and the Jazz Against Apartheid initiative with its international cultural exchange of concerts, educational-workshops, knowledge exchange, audience and business development, is a golden opportunity to grow this legacy in a sustainable and authentic way that reconnects South African cultural memory and the future generations.
Jazz Against Apartheid (2023) is titled “Beyond Exile” and is a catalyst for change, cultural
exchange and expression, positive-sustainable development, opportunity, and could uplift the growth of music and performance capacity of entire regions as well as underserved communities.
@ Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre 13/12
“As we enter the 30th anniversary of democracy in South Africa – this will be a wonderful
way to remember the past and the connections to Germany in a positive way,” describes
JHGC founder and Goethe Medal recipient Tali Nates.
11AM – 1PM : Hybrid, online and In-person panel: Johannesburg, South Africa, and Europe
to engage with each other. The panelists:
5PM – 7PM Collaborative concert featuring the JAA International performers
@ NIROX the Cattle Shed, Cradle of Humankind 14/12
JAA and the Komdraai Impact Hub at NIROX join to bring intergenerational artists together
to share their craft and their life’s learnings with each other and the rural community. To
use creativity to inspire and enable local disadvantaged communities and to provide expert
learning and growth opportunity for creatives and social activists, of all kinds.
Jazz for Rural Development brings upliftment to the community through arts and culture.
By recognising our abilities, heritage and resources a process of rural industrialisation, based on naturally available resources, can create job opportunities and contribute to arrest the massive brain drain of thousands from rural areas to find no employment in urban South Africa.
Jazz Against Apartheid 2023 will utilise this philosophy to network, engage and empower
community centres, arts, academies in the rural areas of the agricultural hub with panel discussions, open workshops and an international music festival acknowledging its universal value as a living source of human evolution.
@ Gompo Arts Centre Duncan Village 16/12
Jazz Against Apartheid is a ground-breaking “künstlerisch-kultureller Austausch” (artistic-
cultural exchange) geared towards “Nachwuchsförderung” – the conscious policy and
practice of transferring societal values, knowledge and skills to the next generation.
By profiling the legacy of Eastern Cape Jazz legends and positioning their work on the global stage and in education, workshops inspires our future composers to the knowledge
foundation for an international approach.
One incident at Gompo Art Centre from the Homecoming Tour may illustrate the
importance of reconnecting our future generations with our cultural memory. When
the MC of the JAA Homecoming event, told the audience at the
workshop that Johnny Dyani was born in Duncan Village and therefore that “he was one of
us” there was a huge sigh of astonishment… “One of us?” this sigh signalled – “Are you
sure? One of us who left the country, fought against apartheid from abroad, and got other
people involved who fought with him and supported his cause – and then, to top it all –
came back spiritually with his music and colleagues playing his music, keeping alive the
memory and rich cultural roots of his South African home?” These sighs, not just one, but
several, were sighs of pride, wonder and astonishment – and joy to be part of this amazing
story right there and then.
Dyani is a way shower for Eastern Cape Jazz legacy. But the fight against apartheid was
central to the output of many primary figures of Eastern Cape Music and united the musical
movements of Queenstown, East London and Nelson Mandela Bay. We would wish to see
the works of Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza and the Matshikiza brothers to also be
preserved and promoted.
@ Steve Biko Centre Qonce 17/12
JAA is a bridge between geography and history, impacting on the future generations of
South Africans and back on German society, asking what developments are possible from
That the annual gala event takes place at the state of the art Steve Biko Centre in Qonce is
historic in itself. Dyani’s breakthrough album in 1979 was titled “Song for Biko.”
At the inaugural event in 2022 on what would have been Steve Biko’s 76th birthday Ntsiki
Biko was guest of honour.
The 2023 event will present three unique sets of music, the Eastern Cape band performing a repertoire of Dyani’s music, followed by the international band performing a repertoire of Dyani’s music and the third set a collaboration with all musicians.
Through sharing the vitality of Dyani’s music, JAA promotes the existence of the forgotten
exiles, and their exiled art, inciting honour and pride for what artists like Dyani fought for and achieved abroad in solidarity with those back home in South Africa who struggled to free themselves from apartheid.
International Musicians: Daniel Guggenheim (saxophone), Christian Lillinger (drums) and
Christopher Dell (vibraphone), trumpeter Claude Deppa from UK and Johannesburg based
collaborators Lex Futshane (bass) and Thomas Dyani (percussion).
Eastern Cape Musicians: Mlungisi Gegana (bass), Sakhi Nompozolo (drums), Sakhile Simane (trumpet), Theo Mngaza (saxophone), NeAhtyah Mbuyazwe (vox), Retsi Pule (vox), Siphokazi Ngxokolo-Bili (vox), Chester Summerton (keys)
Johnny Dyani Songbook Launch: This anthology of compositions by Johnny Mbizo Dyani is a
first anthology of transcribed compositions from a South African Jazz Composer and the
breakthrough work for bringing SA music education in SA education institutions. This work is produced by Jazz Against Apartheid collaborations and transcribed by Artistic Director
Sponsors: This event is made possible through support from Germany, Kultur im Ghetto,
Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts and the Protestant
Church in Hessen; and support from Eastern Cape Development Corporation